Welcome to the Sanditon weekly, darlings — grab a cup of tea and join our analytical discussion into the beautiful chaos inspired by Jane Austen’s unfinished novel of the same title. (These articles won’t cover the entire episode, viewers have already seen it, no one needs a retelling from another, instead, these reviews will break down the episode’s theme and character arcs and of course, there will be heaps of odes to romance.)
Sanditon’s first episode isn’t the strongest Pilot per say, but the sufficient glimpse we get into the lives of the auspiciously polite and the deliciously outrageous is a great start. It’s a pilot that promises ambitious choices, exhilarating surprises, and a much tastefully racier side to classic literature. It’s bold, it’s funny, and it’s downright beautiful in every way. But most importantly, it’s the opening to get to know our remarkable heroine in an episode full of some jaw dropping moments, gorgeous scenic shots, “abrupt and inattentive” love interests. Austen’s story’s often have common themes sprinkled throughout, and in the case of this untitled episode, let’s deem it “the one with all the telling”. In the first episode, we’re told a lot about the townspeople, and while normally I’d be opposed, in this case it works in foreshadowing a lot of what we’ll see in the upcoming season. The seeds planted in the beginning come to pass seamlessly in the finale and that’s the kind of writing I’m here to commend. When it comes to Sanditon, some will regret their stay while others will love every minute of it. It’s evident from the very beginning that there’s a long and winding road to the clifftops where magic will arise, and it gives viewers the chance to recognize that there’s going to be a lot of twists and turns before a happy ending is reached.
But what I want to discuss most is Charlotte Heywood and the glimmer of hope that’s found in a pair of blue shoes. In a great number of analyses, the color blue is often associated with the sky and the sea, appropriate for this show especially, and the symbolic representation of freedom and depth that are emblems throughout the series for our heroine’s journey. The episode is merely a beginning in our heroine’s curiosity and challenges. A farmer’s daughter in a world of dances and marriage proposals is every kind of Cinderella story dream without all the wicked step-sisters and tragic losses. But when the prince isn’t exactly the kind of charming the fairytale often presents; it does a remarkable of job of foreshadowing the work love will do in a town that’s desperate for a little more of it. Charlotte’s innocence is intricately linked to her curiosity and goodness, the pure choice to want every person to be at their best even if it means giving up on the things that they hold dear. However, no matter how pure the intent, even naiveté could lead to quarrels and misunderstandings. But the freedom and profound longing she’ll come to discover in Sanditon is going to be a running theme I can’t wait to discuss further as the series progresses. There’s great freedom in the opportunity to simply have choices and that alone in regency era is tremendous progress.
There’s a lot I adore about Austen’s work, but perhaps my favorite detail is her ability to carve out heroines who are completely flawed and wholeheartedly likable at the same time. She’s often written complex women beautifully in a time where there was a lot of silence regarding the female perspective. This might cause some disagreements among the masses, but for the most part, I love every single leading lady in Austen’s world because in a time where they aren’t often allowed the space for their opinions, they never fail in bringing them to the forefront anyway. And that’s the case with Charlotte whose opinions, though quick and based off accurate observations, come at the wrong time, to the momentarily wrong person. But it gives us viewers the opportunity to relate much more easily because I believe we can all guarantee we’ve said things that could’ve been worded better. And simply put, passing rash judgement towards another’s character is something we should probably stop doing. And the riveting part of the episode’s conclusion is that it sets the tone for the amount of growth that will take place almost painfully. No one wants to see anyone scolded, especially a woman, and especially coming from a man who can be unreliable and rash based off of what we’re told about him. But it allows us to see that this very relationship is going to cause a lot of shifts in the sea — changing each of the characters for the better because the differences in their beings are bound to bring colossal transformations all around.
And here’s the thing, dear readers, Sidney Parker isn’t exactly likable in this episode. Theo James’ unceasingly good looks and exquisite voice aren’t enough to ignore Sidney’s unkindness in the episode, but, it’s this very showcase that’s going to make him one to adore later on because the moment we start seeing through the façade he puts on, it’ll be astounding. We get a short glimpse of his true character in the kind approach he takes with Georgiana, but the episode also tells us that something’s jaded the character profoundly, and knowing we’re going to learn what that is reflects on the episode’s framing strongly. But though his unkindness towards Charlotte’s assumption could’ve been said differently, the very decision to defend his family is the acute exhibition of the steadfast loyalty that runs through his veins – this is a man who’ll do anything to protect his family even when he’s deemed unreliable by them.
The episode also gives us a glimpse into the scandalous lives of the Denhams too quickly showing us just who we need to be weary of. Edward wasn’t easy to like upon initial meeting, but as the episode progresses, we’re able to see the why very clearly revealing him as one of the true villains in the show despite our hero’s unkindness mentioned above. The deception and deceit is unblemished from the beginning when it comes to the Denhams and the lengths they’ll go to for their inheritance. But it’s also why Esther becomes such an adoring character later on as she grows and fights against the pain that’s caused to her.
There’s so much I want to say, but without spoiling for too much for viewers who’ve yet to see the entire season, I’ll end this episode’s analysis here. Sanditon is perhaps the greatest period drama roller coaster I’ve thus embarked on and I can’t wait to dive further in the lives of these eccentrics. If there’s anything specific to the first episode you’d like us to discuss further, let us know in the comments below and I’ll happily do so! See you all in a few for unexpected views during seaside strolls, more scandalous surprises, a pineapple, and further progression in the romantic tales of the brooding and sweet.
- The costumes! Guys. These costumes are everything. Sidney’s coat is too much to handle in all the right ways. Truly.
- Arthur and Diana are so precious. We need more of them on our screens.
- The FORESHADOWING in this episode. I will never be over it. In every way, it’s genius all while being extremely painful.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.